The Bonn Challenge, an international movement born in Germany in 2011, is right on track to meet or even surpass its goal of beginning to restore 150 million hectares (370 million acres) of degraded and deforested land by 2020. This global target was unprecedented in ambition and scope. So far, over 20 countries have responded to the challenge, expressing an ambition to restore more than 60 million hectares (148 million acres) by 2020 – an area the size of Spain and Portugal combined. More commitments are expected this year.
In 2014, nine countries committed to restore over 40 million hectares (nearly 100 million acres), more than doubling the area previously committed. National and provincial governments are starting to move restoration up their agendas as well, realizing its benefits for people and planet. Non-governmental and multi-lateral organizations supported this work, helping to identify opportunities for restoration and private sector involvement. Donors including Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) are making landscape restoration a priority investment.
Many of these diverse partners meet today and Saturday to discuss progress and a vision for 2020 and beyond. Organized and co-hosted by Germany, Norway, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and World Resources Institute, this Bonn Challenge 2.0 meeting is expected to highlight progress in landscape restoration programs around the globe. Regional programs, such as Initiative 20x20 in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Vision 25x25 in Africa are bringing the global Bonn Challenge closer to the ground, helping it gain traction and turning the goal into a reality.
The meeting will also provide an opportunity to discuss the leadership of the Global Restoration Council, a group of influential leaders from government, civil society and the private sector that are helping to galvanize action for restoration and build support for the Bonn Challenge. Current council member Wanjira Mathai, Chairperson of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, will be stepping up her role to co-chair the Council alongside former Prime Minister of Sweden, Göran Persson.
And momentum is building beyond Bonn. The New York Declaration on Forests at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2014 raised the bar by setting a goal to restore 350 million hectares (865 million acres) by 2030. Supporting ambitious restoration agendas in Brazil, Indonesia, India and China will complement other regional and national efforts to help mobilize the political commitment needed to meet the Bonn Challenge target.
But political commitment is only the first step. The emerging global restoration movement now faces its next challenge: to transform political commitment into action on the ground. This will require more collaboration among new partners, innovative financing mechanisms, cutting-edge monitoring capabilities and sound policy and governance. If all goes well, the Bonn Challenge will be successful in bringing the benefits of restoration to people and the planet.